Japan Turns Sideways

Japan's "Sideways" remake, shot in Napa
Japan’s “Sideways” remake, shot in Napa

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The NY Times published a story this week about the Japanese remake of ‘Sideways’.  It has been shot in Napa (the original was shot in Santa Ynez Valley, the setting for the book by Rex Pickett), using Japanese actors and crew, and is expected to be released in Japan in the coming months. 

Seems the budget for the film is really low, as in $3 million.  For perspective, the original low-budget film was shot for $17 million – a paltry amount by Hollywood standards.  My winery friends in Santa Ynez may engage in a bit of schadenfreude over the discrepancy, though I doubt Napa cares much, being the big dog on the winemaking block (awareness tests among wine drinkers indicate “Napa” is #2, just slightly behind “California”).  The remake is part of a trend in Japan and other countries whose local filmaking industry is busy remaking an interesting mix of American movies, from the classics to more obscure films deemed of interest to the folks at home.

The NYT story reports that most of the scenes are intact, though some have been modified to better suit the home audience in Japan.  But the famous Merlot rant is gone – seems the producers found a tepid response when scouting for locations in Napa, home to many iconic merlots.

I just hope the film brings the pleasures of touring wine country to a new audience.  If the movie is a box office success, it will likely raise wine sales in Japan (and perhaps among Japanese-speaking Americans?) as the original did in the U.S.  But will the brand-conscious Japanese buy only the wine brands that appear in the movie, or only the wines of Napa, or only California wines, or…?   We’ll have to wait and see.

Dave the Wine Merchant

 Quote of the Day:
If anybody orders merlot, I’m leaving!“     Miles Raymond in the original movie ‘Sideways’







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